Music Mondays | Raury


Raury [pronounced Rory] is being considered a music prodigy of the next generation. At only 19 years old, he has fused together an interesting and eclectic sound. With supporters like Kanye West, Tom Morello and Big K.R.I.T it is easy to see the wide range of sounds that this young musician has managed to create.

I ran into his music through a random playlist on Spotify named “Happy :)”. One of my secrets to finding new music that I scan playlists on Spotify. If I find a new song I like from a new artist I will go to that artists’ page to see what else they got. Thus far, this method has been fruitful.

The first song I heard by Raury was Friends ft. Tom Morello. Rage Against the Machine was a favorite of mine through my angsty teenage years especially as I transitioned into building my political consciousness at the age of 18 and 19. So to see Tom Morello featured on this track by an artist unknown to me intrigued me.

“All We Need” is the latest album by Raury – it debuted this past October. I am still re-listening to his music and learning to train my ear to his sound. Instinctively, I feel as though Raury’s hippy, electronic, hip hop vibe is a perfect sound match to my personality. I feel very connected to this new sound. It is unlike anything I have heard before , okay, it may exude traces of Kanye, Pharrell and a little Kid Cudi. Artists who usually throw caution to the wind when it comes to their music because for them creativity is king. These artist ignore the “typical” rules of hip hop.

Building upon different sounds, the folksy hip hop rhythms, I encounter with every listen inspires me  to create. This maybe the new wave of music that we hear on the radio. But, what is even more inspiring is the message that is being expelled out of my headphones. From statements about the environment, to black bodies being murdered, to the political climate we are living in, Raury points out the social inequities experienced by young black men in contrast to a whimsical melody.

My favorite tracks on “All We Need” include Peace Prevail, Crystal Express, and Trap Tears. More about Raury in this feature in Paper Magazine. You can listen on Spotify or here’s a sample from YouTube, enjoy!


Music Mondays | Dae Zhen

Dae ZhenIt’s August and my vibe has been mainly neo-soul, hip-hop and r&b. I go through ebbs and flows of music styles and albums that stay on repeat – right now its Jhene Aiko’s Souled Out. In late June, I went back home to the City of Angels and had a cool two week visit where I caught up with old friends, family, and visited my old stomping grounds.

It was around 2 a.m. in Santa Monica when a few old friends met a few new friends. We danced at the beach and then proceeded to take a dip in the ocean [we may or may not have been drinking heavily at a nearby bar.] Shortly, after our late night dip we arrived at my friends apartment. We talked music everything from Miles Davis to Jay-Z.

One of the homies said we had to peep this up-and-coming artist, named Dae Zhen. Turns out Dae Zhen is the homies younger brother. I was skeptical at first. LA is like a breeding ground for wack artists trying to make a name for themselves. But, at 3 a.m. while kicking it on the sofa craving some pizza, ’94 played on the screen,  I heard this sound and saw that face and asked to hear more.

A few weeks later when I returned to DC, I decided I had to listen some more – so I did. I have even incorporated Dae Zhen’s music into some of my playlist’s and sent his tracks around to friends. I downloaded his albums and have officially become a fan.

His sound is one that is smooth, deep, witty and soulful. Somewhere between Childish Gambino, J. Cole,  with a 90’s hip hop vibe. It is hard to believe that he is only 22. His first album – Women and Wordplay – is a great primer into the world of his sound. He has recently dropped another album called Dipset which is just as addicting.

After about a month of consuming everything that he has put out. I can say I fully co-sign his sound –  its everything you want to hear this summer.

Music Mondays | QUITAPENAS

On this Monday in Washington, D.C., its starting to look more like spring – the sun came out and the snow is starting to melt. I have been craving the sunshine and music that takes me back to the summer nights in Los Angeles.

I just learned about this band from sunny Southern California. QUITAPENAS which translates to “take away your worries” and they did just that for me this week.  Their Afro-Latino inspired polyrhythmic beats whisk you away to an earlier time. Just close your eyes and imagine you are in the middle of a street party surrounded by beautiful brown bodies dancing to the beat of the music. Yes, that is what I think of when I hear the sounds of QUITAPENAS.


[DIY] Last Minute Valentine Idea

Valentine’s Day is almost here. Check out this DIY by Monster Factory.

I actually made if for my boyfriend last week and gave it to him glued it to a brown cardboard chinese take-out box. I stuffed it with red filler and filled it with some of his favorite candy. I then wrote “Will you be my valentine?” on the heart and tied his favorite blue pixie sticks together and placed them on top.

He loved it. It was really fun to create! All you need is some paper a glue stick, scissors and this template.

With my very small budget this DIY was affordable and cute with tons of heart! Too bad, I didn’t take a picture of the final result!

Music Diaries with Gael Garcia Bernal

Gael Garcia Bernal in Motorcycle Diaries

Can Gael Garcia Bernal get any hotter? I didn’t think so. Until today.

Its not just his chiseled features, full lips, and mysterious eyes that has me so fascinated with this Mexican celebrity. It’s the way he carries himself and his consciousness.

He has an eye for art and a way of politicizing films by sneaking a message in them. From movies like, the obvious, Motorcycle Diaries to Amores Perros, Even the Rain and Babel. He always has something deep and meaningful to say. He pushes the envelope. Like the gay sex scene he filmed with his best friend Diego Luna in Y Tu Mama Tambien?

Tonite, NPR featured Gael Garcia as their Guest DJ on the show ALT. Latino. He was great and can I just say he is effortlessly cool! Check out this show here in english or en español! And note that sexy laugh….Guau! To top if off he ended the segment with a song by Gilberto Gil !

Thank you to my friend Sufia for sharing! These mellow sounds completed my night.

{ Top 10 } songs entering 2012

10. Alexandra Stan – Mr. Saxobeat

9. Don Omar & Lucenzo – Danza Kuduro

8. Yolanda Be Cool & D.Cup – We No Speak Americano

7. Nneka – Walking

6. LMFAO – Party Rock

5. Adele – Rolling in the Deep

4. Nicki Minaj feat. Rihanna – Fly

3. Beyonce – Party

2. Paulina Rubio – Me Gustas Tanto

1. Rihanna – We Found Love

Really Feelin Nneka.

Who is Nneka?

The daughter of a Nigerian father and a German mother, Nneka Egbuna was born in Warri, Oil City in the Delta region of Nigeria at the height of its new found wealth in the mid 70s.

For nineteen years she soaked up the sounds and rhythms of one of the most musical nations on the planet, a country where expressing yourself through song is just a part of everyday life, a country that has music in its very DNA, where the influence of giants like Afrobeat revolutionary Fela Kuti is never far away.

But at the age of 19 this modest and hard-working young girl made the big decision to leave behind the African way of life. To further her education, she moved not just to Europe but to Northern Europe, to the industrial seaport of Hamburg in Germany. For the young Nneka, it was a dramatic change, and there remains an intangible quality in her voice that speaks of being a long, long way from home.

“The cultural differences between Germany and Nigeria were extreme,” she says. “The way they dress, the way they carry themselves, their religion. So many things that were important to me are not important to them. For two years I was overwhelmed.”

For all its innate musicality, Nigerian culture perhaps prizes education higher than any other achievement, and while Nneka was making her first demos and beginning to make waves as a performer, she was determined not to waste the stack of A-levels that she already had under her belt. Enrolled at Hamburg University, she continued to study for a degree in anthropology – no mean feat when you’re in demand at clubs and festivals from Paris to Lisbon, from Vienna to Madrid.

While love, hope and optimism form the bedrock of all Nneka’s recorded work, there’s a steeliness to her new material, the engagement of a highly developed mind on some of the tough realities of modern politics – both personal and international. It takes no little courage – and insight – to write a song like ‘Africans’, which tells her people to stop blaming their colonial past for their problems and take responsibility for themselves. To then go back and sing it to packed houses in Nigeria – where the military rule with an iron fist – shows an extraordinary depth and strength of will. But that’s just what she did, making a triumphant return to her home country on tour with MTV-Award-winning Nigerian rapper 2-Face.

Yet, like the woman who wrote it, the song ‘Africans’ is not dry and hectoring – it’s a soft and elegant melody, a piece of music that doesn’t need to shout but instead seduces. Backed by the production of her longtime collaborator DJ Farhot, whose dubby soundworld she has inhabited since those early demo days in Hamburg, Nneka finds the perfect foil for the raw emotion that she brings to a vocal.

It’s a testament to the strength of Nneka’s talent that her success so far is based on word of mouth, on the quality of her albums and the intensity of her live performance. She is not a big-label product, forced down people’s throats by marketing dollars. Her audience now numbers hundreds of thousands across two continents, for Nneka now divides her time between homes in Lagos and Hamburg. Those listeners are people who have tracked her down, because there will always be a demand for music that does more than just entertain, but touches something universal. As she puts it herself: “I do it in a sweet way – but I sing to speak the truth.”